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Category 4 Hurricane Maria Slams Puerto Rico

Category 4 Hurricane Maria made landfall Wednesday in southeast Puerto Rico, tearing off roofs, ripping doors from hinges, flooding streets and structures and causing widespread power outages.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm made landfall near the city of Yabucoa, lashing the area with 150-mph winds, just 2 mph short of a Category 5 hurricane.

Maria is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1932. Forecasters expect the storm to batter the island for 12 to 24 hours.

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with such ferocity Wednesday that it broke two National Weather Service radars on the island.

“This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon,” said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello. “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.”

Emergency services began receiving calls for rescues soon after the storm hit, although first responders had been directed to cease service when sustained winds reached 50 mph.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans sought safety in emergency shelters and are weathering the storm there, along with their pets.

“As of 2:30 a.m. we count 10,059 refugees and 189 pets (in shelters),” Rossello tweeted Tuesday.

Despite the dire forecast, officials remained optimistic regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“We are going to be hit hard,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told CNN. “But we are blessed that we have what it takes to move and push on. We will make it, I bet you. I have no doubt, we’re going to make it.”